Installations
Walls of Memories 2003
A site specific art event in and around an open well using installations, dance and photography at Visthar campus located in the outskirts of Bangalore, Dodda Gubbi, 15 kms from M.G Road.
  Participating Artists : C F John, Tripura Kashyap and Azis T.M
 


Walls of memories

An art event of the unresolved edges

An unused car can be dismantled and sold as spare parts.
A ruined building can be demolished.
An emptied bottle can be thrown
But what we do with a dry well?
Is it an empty space to be filled
Or a space filled with memories.

Gallery
Click your pointer on any sample images to view them in bigger size.

 

It might sound absurd to ponder over a form which has lost its purpose and abandoned by all once connected with it, be they plants, animals or people. When people walk by whatever they find around they throw into the dry well. Fused bulbs, emptied liquor bottles, plastic bags, stones - are all flung into this space. People either enjoy the fall of things or consider everything thrown into it as gone out of vicinity forever. Or is it a playful enactment of the fear of an anticipated fall, the leaf or stone symbolizing the self?

Open wells have been central to most civilizations for thousands of years and have served as private as well as collective spaces for communities living around them. Now, these wells are becoming history, and vanishing with them is a cosmology that they represent. There are around 30 wells in and around Naryanpura village in the outskirts of Bangalore. Among these now only 3 have water through the year. In the whole of Kothanur Panchayat which included Narayanapura, the last well was dug over 20 years ago.

During the preparatory phase of the art project 'Walls of Memories', three of us, C.F. John, Tripura Kashyap and Azis T.M interacted with the community of Narayanpura to understand better their relationship with wells. They spoke of wells they had dug, wells drying up, bore-wells replacing wells, ground water levels receding, and of the changing professions and life styles.
One day as we were leaving the village, Velliyamma a bright, chirpy woman, came up to us and said "In those days, our wells were filled to their brim with sweet water, now a days these wells have gone dry and empty. The hospitals nearby are full of people dying because of polluted water!" These words still echo in our ears - she died a week after this meet.

Today the dry wells have become garbage bins of mythical proportion. They appear like symbolic of our times - of the human mind accumulated with decadent thoughts.
The wells stay as witness to the ill effects of urban development, bringing forth memories of a civilization gazing at our world from the depth of silence.

We realized that the well was a powerful, dynamic container that stored and reflected memories and feelings. Wells served as a major element in defining identity of the people in the village. Socially, culturally and symbolically, a well as a space and it's water connect life physically and metaphysically. Even if the well had died a physical death, it was still rooted in the community's psyche.

'Walls of Memories' is a site specific art project in and around an open well using installations, dance and photography. Three artists, C F John, Tripura Kashyap and Azis T.M, have collaborated in this project which is scheduled to culminate with an art event on 7th and 8th of February 2003. The site is situated at Visthar campus located in the outskirts of Bangalore in the village Dodda Gubbi, 15 kms from M.G Road.'Walls of Memories' is a project of Visthar, supported by India Foundation for the Arts.

The well and us

Each well we saw in and around Naryanpura had a unique identity with different landscape, mood, energy and light. Some frightening, and some inviting. They stirred in us both existential and symbolic realities. At one level there was the primordial fear one had while looking at the space. Yet at another level, there was the sense of a dream, like when a leaf fell at a mesmerizing pace into them.

The dry well has a presence of its own at the same time is a memory presented. The well at Visthar demanded a creative weaving between itself, the art, and us, the artists. We employed characteristics of the structure of the well in conceiving the art works: the depth, the play of light in the well's darkness, the steps leading down, the scale of the structure, the body's gravity, the empty space etc.

Along with this, were aspects of viewing into the well - seeing reflections on water and the mysteries of space, where the time melts, interweaving playfulness with fear, memories and dreams with the present, and shadows with the body. At another level, unlike horizontal viewing, the structure of the well directs its own kind - looking down into it or looking up from it. These abstract yet important elements of the well find new translations through our installations, dance and photographs.

In the 30 ft space from the ground to the floor of the well, every moment of our working oscillated between the gravity of the body and the realization of everything that is vanishing - the end of matters that mattered. Hence working on every form was an attempt to explore the enigma of our relationship between what we are and that which is disappearing, between what is present and what is absent.

Collaboration has been the essence of this journey. Initially, each of us shared personal experiences, ranging from ecological, socio-cultural dimensions to symbolic and artistic reading of the well.

We saw this primordial site as a defined space in many frames. Yet, body movements in juxtaposition with placed forms and objects brought in more possibilities for installations and photography. In photos of the well enveloping the bodies and placed forms one could almost conceive an instant choreography. Images in several photos were linked transitions the dancer had not been conscious of while performing.

The well has functioned as a laboratory for art, where we experimented with fusion of
diverse expressions and synthesis of working methods. This project challenged us as collaborators to make art that has a character of its own - as a fresh physical entity or as an extension of the site. Rather than merely using the site as a backdrop, we as artists have sought to reconnect with nature and create art that is fed and stimulated by it. The well opened up doorways to explore our artistic relationship with its enigmatic form so powerful yet without its soul - water. The presence of a community pushed our artistic intentions to go beyond professionally defined contexts. In this process we hope to transcend personal idioms and to enquire into linking art forms by drawing upon areas of common concern.

for further information visit:

www.cfjohnart.com, www.indiaifa.org

   
  Links for some of the Installation Events
 

Cultural spiral in plastic, 1993

Silence of Furies and Sorrows - Pages of a burning city, 1995

Quest for Celebration and Question on Waste, 1996

Territory - an art event, 1998

Mangroves, 1999

Walls of Memories 2003

Quilted 2003

   
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